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Renée C. Fox

Annenberg Professor Emerita of the Social Sciences, Columbia University

Before joining the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1969, Renée C. Fox was a member of the Columbia University Bureau of Applied Social Research, taught for twelve years at Barnard College, and then spent two years as a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Social Relations at Harvard. At the University of Pennsylvania, she was a professor in the Department of Sociology with joint, secondary appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry and Medicine, and in the School of Nursing.  She also held an interdisciplinary chair as the Annenberg Professor of the Social Sciences. From 1972-1978 she served as the Chair of the Penn Sociology Department. On July 1, 1998, she became the Annenberg Professor Emerita of the Social Sciences. She is also an Emerita Senior Fellow of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Fox’s major teaching and research interests – sociology of medicine, medical research, medical education, and medical ethics – have involved her in first-hand, participant observation-based studies in Continental Europe (particularly in Belgium), in Central Africa (especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo), and in the People’s Republic of China, as well as in the United States. She has lectured in colleges, universities, and medical schools throughout the United States, and has taught in a number of universities abroad. During the 1996-1997 academic year, she was the George Eastman Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford.
She is the author of nine books and numerous articles.


  • P.h.D., Harvard University
  • B.A., Smith College


  • Observing Bioethics (Oxford University Press, 2008), coauthored with Judith P. Swazey
  • In the Belgian Château: The Spirit and Culture of a European Society in an Age of Change (Ivan R. Dee, 2008)
  • The Courage to Fail: A Social View of Organ Transplants and Dialysis, (Transaction Publishers, 2nd Ed., 2001), co-authored with Judith P. Swazey
  • Experiment Perilous: Physicians and Patients Facing the Unknown (Transaction Publishers, Reprint Edition, 1997)
  • Spare Parts: Organ Replacement in American Society (Oxford University Press, 1992), co-authored with Judith P. Swazey 
  • The Sociology of Medicine: A Participant Observer’s View (Prentice Hall, 1989)